Dimapur, September 21: The Naga Peoples Movement for Human Rights, Delhi organized the 18th Morung Dialogue on September 19 on the topic ‘To Freedom: A human story’, where V.S Atem, Gen. (Retd.), former Longvibu of the Naga Army and now member, Collective Leadership, NSCN/GPRN narrated his story of serving in the Naga movement, leading up to his views on the current negotiations.
The chair, Prof. Paul Pimomo, Washington University set the tone of the dialogue, posing how life could be post-settlement. Would the settlement answer the dreams of the people? Will the parallel negotiations reconcile into an agreement? Many have passed away without witnessing it.
Gen. Atem started by paying tribute and respect to the Nagas – both living and dead – who have sacrificed for the Naga cause. He made special mention of Naga women who have suffered great humiliation and hardships in the hands of the enemy but was hopeful that a solution will emerge as the people have been praying and fasting ceaselessly for God’s intervention.
Regarding the current scenario, Gen. Atem expressed disappointment with the long-drawn peace process with the Government of India (GoI). The reason for this delay, he said, was that the GoI under UPA was not for solution and they were just trying to manage the conflict.
The NDA government under the leadership of Vajpayee was not a stable one as he was leading a minority government. Therefore, the talks could not progress well. According to Gen. Atem, the current NDA government has everything to conclude the long-drawn negotiation, but after 5 long years since signing of the Framework Agreement (FA), the Nagas have been patiently holding on. He was not sure on what pretext the GOI might try to prolong the peace talks.
In response to a question, Gen. Atem expressed his opinion that no one is a fence sitter and no one is a front runner for the Naga cause. It is a team effort like football where there is no difference between the scorer and goalkeeper. Every Naga is equally playing for the team, he said.
“Whatever can be done at present should be done,” he said.
Gen. Atem ended the dialogue asking the Nagas to be prepared for the worst. “We cannot be caught unprepared,” he said. “We will be unable to stand up to the challenges if we are not prepared.”
According to him, the present generation should not be scared of suffering and hardship and that we must accept every challenge that comes our way and be guided by wisdom from God. (Page News Service)